Value of Real-Time Search

July 24, 2009 · 10 comments

in Marketing

“When are people turning to real-time search?”

SEM Synergy, Bruce Clay, Inc.

SEM Synergy on WebmasterRadio.fm

Virginia Nussey asked me about the value of real-time search during an interview on SEM Synergy, a weekly radio show hosted by Bruce Clay, Inc. on WebmasterRadio.fm. Our chat prompted further discussion about ways marketers can utilize and optimize real-time search.

Real-Time Search = Indexed Conversations

Real-time search is a buzzword for searching (and listening in on) what people are talking about and sharing. Some call it social search, since social activity influences search by becoming indexed conversations, content that shows up in search results.

Real-time search reflects what everyone is sharing in near real-time on social networking sites.

These conversations are held on channels such as Twitter.com and FriendFeed.com, include bookmarks on Delicious.com, votes on Digg.com stories, and posts and comments on millions of blogs – just to name a few.

Our sharing and reviews are archived and indexed. I’ve explored that sharing your online activity becomes your lifestream, because some of your sharing shows up in search results.

Social Indexing Rate

Do we know the indexing rate of our social activity? It varies and is something worth monitoring.

  • Bing began integrating Twitter feeds with Microsoft search results at the beginning of July.
  • Google indexes optimized Twitter feeds at a rate that appears to be increasing; however, nothing about Google’s real-time search information retrieval is public, yet.

I saw one tweet which was retweeted multiple times show up in Google in a few hours, but I didn’t take a screenshot. Since then, I’ve been using Google Alerts to monitor indexation rates of select tweets.  The following alert was received exactly 24 hours after the Twitter update below was posted.

Google Alert - Twitter Post Indexed

Google Alert - Twitter Post Indexed

Twenty-four hours may not be “real-time indexation” by Google, but considering some websites take days to week weeks to get indexed, an algorithm is definitely “listening” to Twitter conversations.

The following shows the update on Twitter viewed via the Web. Notice the profile name, not the user name, plus the first few words of the tweet are the “Title Tag” of this “mini” Web page.

Twitter Post - Title Optimized

Indexed Twitter Post - Title Optimized

Do you think of each tweet as a mini Web page? Each status update is just that!

Caveat: Indexing does not equal ranking!

Twitter posts and other social media conversations are not going to rank high for competitive keywords in Google search. Their influence on standard search results is, however, the topic of further exploration and testing.

You can see, however, that you can “SEO” and optimize your tweets. As Edward Lewis of SEO Consultants says,

“Anything that is crawled for information retrieval can be SEO’d. There are protocols for everything.”

Real-Time Search Engines

Real-time search engines index conversations. Some index only Twitter feeds while others tap into multiple channels of social activity. To explore some of the real-time engines, visit:

20 Best Real-Time Twitter Search Engines, a post that reviews “20 best real-time or almost real-time social web and Twitter search engines.”

Who rules real-time search? A look at 11 contenders, a post on Venture Beat that covers the proliferation of real-time search engines in past months.

Caveat: All search, especially social media participation, is open to spam. This stream of chatter is not valuable if it’s not filtered.

  • Tools enable us to “pick up” conversations. Use specific keywords to filter these streams.
  • Use discernment to filter out what the spammers put down. (Hey, it’s on the Internet, it must be accurate, right?)

Value of Real-Time Search to Marketers

Real-time search is valuable, because it lets marketers “hear” what is being shared and talked about on any given topic.

Social activities provide valuable insight, reviews and commentary about  news and events, trending topics, desires and needs.

REPEAT: “insight…about…desires and needs.”

How valuable is insight into what WE WANT and what we PLAN TO BUY?$$$

Consider…

Why is Facebook now one of the most valuable marketing channels, an advertising magnet? Google AdWords now wanes in comparison to targeted social marketing!

Social media participation gives marketers insight into sentiment, behavior and buying patterns!

Selling Bikes?

Let’s say your company sells bikes. You have a Social Media Team who is active on Twitter and other channels. Consider the following steps:

1. Send them to Topsy.com to search Twitter, blog posts, classified ad sites and other “near real-time” conversations.

2. Filter the results by looking for people who have expressed they want to “buy a bike.”

Results for "buy a bike"

Results for "buy a bike" (Click to see full-size results.)

3. Dig a little deeper to see if they are genuine and if they might find value in what you have to offer.

4. Reach out. Send them a tweet, or leave a comment on their blog.

5. Share your bike deals, and leave a link or contact information in case they are interested.

6. Be genuine, and DO NOT be a drive-by link dropper. Remember, your engagement will be indexed!

Marketers can gain a great deal of “near” real-time insight and value from social sentiment. Upon perceiving a need or interest, enter into those conversations. It’s easy to send someone a tweet then tell them to check out your offering when you’ve been paying attention and saw they recently expressed such a desire.

Sentiment Research

Mining keywords to determine how people currently “think” should be called “Sentiment Research!”

Marketers are in a quest for latest trends and information. Keyword research used to be the primary way a marketer gained insight into audience thoughts, desires and demand. Remember when Google Trends was a big deal? Then in 2007 they announced Google Hot Trends to show the top 100 “hottest” search queries for each day.

Enter: Real-time Sentiment Research

Real-time search will never replace keyword research; however, it does give us insight into sentiment.

Below is a snippet of one of my keyword keyword worksheets in which Social Conversations play a role in determining which keywords are in demand, what’s being discussed, and audience sentiment about those keyword phrases:

Social Conversations = Sentiment Research

Social Conversations = Sentiment Research

Action: Add a column for Delicious.com, Technorati.com and Topsy.com to your keyword worksheets to gather sentiment research data.

Link Building Strategy Tip: Take another look at Topsy.com screenshot above. See “Top authors” on the right?  hmmm… How might this information help you with link building?

So, when ARE people turning to real-time search?

Twitter and social bookmarking sites are tools to figure out what topics are currently relevant to users and marketers.

Marketers have a vast opportunity by turning to real-time search. We need to be savvy and discerning about how much trust we place in each conversation. But, people are talking and sharing and expressing their opinions about every topic imaginable. If you have something of value to offer, then you can get value from real-time search.

  • How are you using real-time search?
  • What engines do you use?
  • Do you see any value?
  • Do you think about optimizing some of your tweets?

The buzz and latest developments give us a lot to consider. It’s an exciting time as social activities influence peer behavior, marketing strategies and search engine results!

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